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Picture: 123RF
Picture: 123RF

Like a patient recovering after being on life support, horse racing will experience a much-needed injection of confidence in the space of eight days with the running of Saturday’s WSB Met at Kenilworth followed by the Cape Premier Yearling Sale at the De Grendel wine estate on February 6.

While racing has managed to continue behind closed doors, the breeding industry has suffered badly, resorting to online sales where the atmosphere of the vibrant auction has been missing.

Little wonder, then, that there is huge enthusiasm emanating from the CTS camp and MD Grant Knowles has a refreshing outlook on the 188-strong catalogue.

“When it comes to sales, buyers want to know if this is a sale where I can buy a champion. The answer — when it comes to CTS sales — is a resounding yes,” Knowles told Business Day on Tuesday.

“We can certainly point to past champions, but there is nothing better than those making the current headlines. There is no lack of top-class CTS graduates and many are running at Saturday’s Met meeting including Double Superlative, Linebacker, Chansonette and Rio Querari,” added Knowles.

Linebacker is a R425,000 purchase at the 2019 Yearling Sale. Last season’s Daily News 2000 victor fluffed his lines in the Queen’s Plate but might have gone flat in his second run after a rest and is fancied to bounce back to form on Saturday.

With just five racecourse appearances, Double Superlative, a R375,000 CTS purchase, is taking on older rivals but has a sound chance of giving Anton Marcus his third Met triumph. He won on Hill Fifty Four (2014) and Rainbow Bridge (2019).

Klawervlei Stud — champion breeders six times in the past eight years — consign 33 yearlings to the sale as well as another 19 as agent. The draft has sons and daughters by most of the leading stallions including Gimmethegreenlight, Trippi, What A Winter, Vercingetorix, Pomodoro, Twice Over and William Longsword.

Three other powerhouse studs Maine Chance Farms, Ridgemont Highlands and Nadeson Park Stud consign impressive drafts and the latter will send 25 yearlings by 12 different stallions.

Maine Chance are the breeders of Princess Calla who renews rivalry with Captain’s Ransom in the grade 1 Majorca Stakes and Narrow Creek has been responsible for a number of winners in recent weeks.

Ridgemont Highlands consign 17 yearlings, which include three fillies and a colt by their red-hot stallion Rafeef. Last Saturday one of his sons, Aragosta, won the Sea Cottage Stakes at Turffontein.

Rio Querari — bred at Normandy Stud, which has four yearlings coming under the hammer on February 6 — bids to further bolster his bankroll when he takes on Aussie-bred Real Gone Kid in the Cape Flying Championship.

A notable meeting for CTS came in December when six of their graduates lined up against the hot favourite Desert Miracle in the grade 1 Cape Fillies Guineas.

The sextet were Chansonette, Maria Querol, Danceatdaylight, Homely Girl, Queen of Shadows and She’s A Rainbow. It was the first-named who came up trumps under a fine ride by Grant van Niekerk.

“There is no doubt in my mind that CTS’s partnership with De Grendel took our yearling sale another level despite the hindrance of Covid restrictions. We can’t wait for the first horse to enter the ring in a week on Sunday,” said Knowles.

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